As usual, I've got a somewhat strange question: does anyone out there know how to make chikuwa (or hanpen or the like) from scratch? For those who don't know, chikuwa are a class of Japanese blobs -- fried, steamed, and/or broiled -- made of ground fish paste, starch, egg white, salt, other seasonings, and often various kinds of vegetables. They come in various shapes and sizes. The best thing to do with them is to get a whole bunch of different kinds and drop them into a wide earthenware pot (a do-nabe) with a slab of kombu, some shelled hardboiled eggs, chunks of carrot and daikon, a dash each of sake and soy, a sprinkle of sugar, and water just barely to cover. Bring to a strong simmer, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for as long as you can stand it -- many hours is ideal. Mix up some plain mustard (50/50 water and mustard powder) as a dip, and serve. This dish is oden, a classic cold-weather favorite in Japan, especially in Kansai, most especially in Kyoto. You can get chikuwa frozen at Asian markets, but they're not very good. I used to like them, but after a year in Kyoto, where I used to get them fresh from stalls in Nishiki market, I don't like the frozen kind any more. The stuff is very old: they've been making these things for centuries. So you must be able to do it at home, especially now with food processors. But how? Yes, I could just experiment, but I'm hoping someone has some guesses or experience or something. Anyone?